Barrington Tops area and around Newcastle (15-17th December 2001)

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Subject: Barrington Tops area and around Newcastle (15-17th December 2001)
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 22:33:03 +1100
Spent last weekend and the following Monday (15-17th Dec 2001), showing a friend from Tasmania, David Walker, some great wildlife spots in the Hunter Region of NSW.

Most of the time was spent in the Barrington Tops Region at Gloucester and Copeland (approx. 300 km north of Sydney CBD or 3 hours drive from the city centre). The weather was mainly good following heavy rains upon arriving on Saturday about mid-day. We visited Copeland Tops State Forest (about 10km west of the town of Gloucester) where we enjoyed great views of a  good variety of the regular rainforest/forest birds including a pair of Pacific Bazas (presumably nesting), Grey Goshawks (heard calling), Brush Turkeys, Wompoo Fruit-doves (atleast 6), Brown Cuckoo-doves (very numerous, including seeing at one time 34 feeding together), Topknot Pigeons, White-headed Pigeons, Brush Cuckoos, Noisy Pittas (4), Bassian and Russet-tailed Thrushes (the later quite common along the road to the Copeland Gold mine), Varied Triller, Rose Robins, Crested Shrike-tits, Spectacled and Black-faced Monarchs (one of the later seen on a nest), Leaden Flycatchers (pair), Logrunner, 3 species of Scrubwrens, Scarlet Honeyeaters, Satin Bowerbirds, Green Catbirds (quite common) and Superb Lyrebirds. All the above were seen only within 500 metres from the main car park of the Copeland Goldmine where a number of rainforest trees were in fruit but none of the large figs). Outside the rainforest, 3 Lewin’s Rails were calling before dusk (and David managed to get a fleeting glimpse of one of them).

The main highlight for me was the spotlighting, where we saw a good variety of mammals (more than 12 species) and saw/heard 11 species of frogs and a number of reptiles. The first evening was overcast and fairly humid making it very good for finding frogs. Red-eyed Tree Frogs (Litoria chloris) were numerous along the road to the Copeland Gold mine (on the base of Copeland Tops). These beautiful frogs were quite deafening and some pairs of these frogs were in amplexus in one of the puddles on the edge of the rainforest. Other frogs seen/heard around Copeland included Green Tree Frogs (L. caerulea), Dwarf Green Tree Frogs (L. fallax), Bleating Tree Frogs (L. dentate), Peron’s Tree Frogs (L. peronii), Laughing Tree Frogs (L. tylerii), Leseur’s Frog (L leseurii), Common Eastern Froglets (Crinea signifera), Spotted Marsh Frogs (Lymnodynastes tasmaniensis), a Stuttering Frog (Mixophyes balbus) and Smooth Toadlets (Uperoleia laevigata).

Both nights were great for mammals, and we had good views of a Spotted-tailed Quoll, Long-nosed Bandicoots, Koalas (mother with young on back), Common Brushtail Possums, Mountain Brushtail Possums (several and quite noisy as they crash their way through the forest), Greater Gliders (2), Long-nosed Potoroos (atleast 2), Parma Wallaby (2), Red-necked Wallaby (2), Red-necked Pademelons (numerous, including many young seen), a Bush Rat and many unidentified small bats. Surprisingly, no Common Ringtail Possums or Sugar Gliders (usually quite common) were seen or heard during the two nights.

The only nocturnal birds seen were a pair of Tawny Frogmouths but heard a few Owlet Nightjars and possibly a Masked Owl.

Reptiles seen including a White-lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides) seen in the early evening along the road going through Copeland Tops SF.

Also present around Gloucester was another Pacific Baza, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, Whistling Kites (a pair on nest), a Peregrine Falcon, Pacific Herons (pair with nest), Brown and Stubble Quails, Dollarbirds, White-throated Gerygones, Figbirds and Grey-crowned Babblers were heard calling.

On our way back to Sydney, we stopped at some wetlands near Newcastle. Around Raymond Terrace, Irrawang and Seaham, we saw a Hoary-headed Grebe, a Darter, Rufous Night Herons (2), hundreds of nesting Cattle Egrets with young (at Seaham Nature Reserve), a Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kites, Brown Falcon, Red-kneed Dotterels (several), several Latham’s Snipe (some quite obliging), White-winged Trillers (atleast a pair), Tawny Grassbirds and White-breasted Woodswallows.

At Minmi (including a visit to Pourmalong NR) we were surprised to encounter 8 Freckled Ducks (in a small swamp on the opposite side of the freeway to Pourmalong NR), Hoary-headed Grebe, some Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads, 15 Glossy Ibis feeding together, a Little Eagle (calling as it circling around its territory) and other common waterbirds.

A pretty good weekend!

Edwin Vella   

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